Sunday, August 10, 2014

Adventures in Writing!

Time to tune into an old radio program from a bygone era...


Aye, Captain?

Fill up my Loomis, lad; I've a tale to log!

Aye-aye, Captain!

Loomis Fountain Pens, the leak-proof, smooth-flowing pen preferred by more explorers for making  entries in their journals — presents Adventures in Writing!                   

Then the real program begins with young Tommy Pinkus sitting at his kitchen table, the clock ticking, an open notebook in front of him, trying to come up with an idea for a story. Occasionally, his cat, Falconflick, leaps up on the table, knocking over the ink and sparking an inspiration.  But however it happens, the boy writer always gets an idea, his pen begins to scratch, the narrative unfurls in an authoritative voice-over by the narrator, Philip McAdoo, and tonight's adventure is underway.

Of course, before that could happen the real scriptwriters labored that week in a painful, drawn-out, hit-and-miss, process having more to do with deadlines and desperation than magic. Or else a distinctly manual kind of magic. 

Sorry to say, you won't find any evidence of that radio show if you search for it, except perhaps in this blog. (But wouldn't that be a cool thing if I'd conjured it into existence, in a Twilight Zoney manner. Take note, Tommy Pinkus.) 

Obviously I'm trying to conjure a little ironic magic for myself, as if the title Adventures in Writing, declaimed by a sterling-voiced announcer, could make words flow spontaneously through the nib of my own version of a Loomis fountain pen:

...whilst rounding Cape August, in the fog-chilled valleys of West Marin, California, at the hidden beginnings of the Perseids meteor shower...

You gotta work with what you got, what matters, which may be too boring and everyday for Tommy Pinkus, but constitutes an adventure nonetheless, just as the meanderings of an ant on a sidewalk constitute a journey. 

I thought about the meadow we had cultivated by benign neglect, in front of our house. More public than the unmown grass bordering the driveway and the unmown, weed-choked, jungle of a backyard, it took over the house-wide strip of grass with the sidewalk on one side, Allen Street on the other.  At first it was just tall grass, then clover, then it got interesting. A meadow's-worth of Queen Anne's Lace. And a companion weed, unknown but standing at attention like the Queen's Own Guard, three feet tall. Bees and wasps and butterflies visited. 

Opinion was divided in 32-34 Allen as to whether it was beautiful or an eyesore (that wasn't how eyesore it); a wildlife preserve or an unkempt embarrassment.

The neighbors shuddered. The neighbors admired. The neighbors didn't even notice, much less care.
It wasn't our responsibility, it was the Town's. Not so, or true in theory, but not ever in practice. 
Pay Matt to mow it and the side strip. Let it stay till the summer's end. 

Finally, it came down to what Charlie thought—Carol's dad, who lived on the ground floor and was our gardener-in-residence emeritus. And Carol maintained that he didn't care for this opportunistic weed patch. Not even the Queen Anne's Lace? I tried to see it through objective eyes. One minute it was a sweet oasis, a caravansary for travel-weary meadow seeds, a habitat where once lay a featureless, anonymous, border that had supported our noble maple tree, felled in the great microburst of 2012. The next minute it was a tattered remnant of a household that didn't shower, ate out of cans and left them lying around,  let the newspapers pile up and tumble down the front steps, and whose doorbell the neighborhood children dared each other to ring before running away.

Fine, I said to Matt. But you have to take a photo of it before you do the deed.

The meadow lives!

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